Terms Used In Analyzing Literature
I. Figures of Speech
1. IMAGE -- a literal and concrete representation of a sensory experience or of an object that can be known by one or more of the senses. Images may be either literal or figurative, a literal image being one that involves no necessary change or extension in the obvious meaning of the words, one in which the words call up a sensory representation of the literal object of sensation; and a figurative image being one that involves a "turn" on the literal meaning of the words.
2. SIMILE -- comparison between
things that are essentially unlike. Comparison is expressed by such
words as like, as, than, similar to, or resembles.
Ex. He is greedy as a pig.
3. METAPHOR -- comparison between
things that are essentially unlike. Comparison is implied; the
figurative term is substituted for or identifies with the literal term.
Ex. Ella is the queen bee of this hive.
4. PERSONIFICATION -- giving the
attributes of a human being to an animal, an object or an idea.
Ex. Death stalked the moor.
5. APOSTROPHE -- addressing someone
not present or an animal, plant or inanimate object as if it could reply.
Ex. Life, I know not where thou art.
6. SYNECDOCHE -- a part substituted
for the whole.
Ex. The cuckoo's song is unpleasing to the married ear.
7. METONYMY -- use of a closely
related idea for the idea itself.
Ex. The pen is mightier than the sword.
8. SYMBOL -- an image whose literal
meaning is far removed from its figurative meaning.
Ex. a red rose.
9. ALLEGORY -- a narrative or
description which has a second meaning beyond itself.
Ex. Pilgrim's Progress.
10. PARADOX -- an apparent
contradiction which is nevertheless somehow true.
Ex. To hear a spark yet think no danger nigh.
11. UNDERSTATEMENT -- saying less
than one means.
Ex. Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
12. OVERSTATEMENT or HYPERBOLE --
exaggeration in the service of truth.
Ex. There were a million people downtown.
13. IRONY-- a disparity between what
seems to be and what is true.
A. Verbal irony -- saying the opposite of what one means.
B. Dramatic irony -- a disparity between what the speaker says and what the author means.
C. Irony of situation -- a discrepancy between the actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate or between what one anticipates and what actually comes to pass.
II. Other terms
14. ALLUSION --Reference to something in history or previous literature. Ex. The Sound and The Fury.
15. ALLITERATION -- repetition of initial consonant sounds. Ex. glitters and gleams.
16. ASSONANCE -- repetition of vowel sounds. Ex. scatters and amasses.
17. CONSONANCE -- repetition of final consonant sounds. Ex. He struts and frets.
18. RIME -- repetition of the accented vowel sounds and all succeeding sounds.
A. Masculine rime -- rhyme sounds involve only one syllable. Ex. clocks/sox; support/retort.
B. Feminine rime -- rhyme sounds involve two or more syllables. Ex. Turtle/fertile.
C. Internal rime -- one or both rising words are within the line.
19. METER -- the pattern of a verse marked by the prevailing foot and number of feet.
20. FOOT -- basic metrical unit,
consisting normally of one accented syllable and one, two, or three unaccented
This handout was provided by Richard Freed, EKU